Address [209-211]

Goethe's words are a hint. Hints only remain hints when thinking does not twist them into definitive statements and thereby come to a standstill with them. Hints are hints only as long as thinking follows their allusions while meditating on them. Thus, thinking reaches a path that leads to what has from time immemorial shown itself in the tradition of our thinking as worthy of thought, and simultaneously veils itself.

Perhaps something simple belonging to what is worthy of thought has drawn a bit closer. We name it when we say: being is experienced as ground/reason. Ground/reason is interpreted as ratio, as an account.

Accordingly humans are the animal rationale, the creature that requires accounts and gives accounts. According to this determination, humans are the reckoning creature, reckoning understood in the broad sense of the word ratio—originally a word in Roman commercial language—as already taken over by Cicero at the time that Greek thinking was converted into Roman cognition.

Being comes to be experienced as ground/reason. Ground/reason is interpreted as ratio, as account. Humans are the reckoning creature. This holds in the various transformations, and indeed unequivocally, throughout the entire history of Western thought. As modern European thinking, this thinking brought the world into the contemporary era, the atomic age. In view of this simple, and for Europe, uncanny state of affairs, we ask:

Does the above mentioned determination that humans are the animal rationale exhaust the essence of humanity? Does the last word that can be said about being run thus: being means ground/reason? Or isn't human nature, isn't its affiliation to being, isn't the essence of being what still remains, and even more disturbingly, worthy of thought? If this is the way it's going to be, may we give up what is worthy of thought in favor of the recklessness of exclusively calculative thinking and its immense achievements? Or are we obliged to find paths upon which thinking is capable of responding to what is worthy of thought instead of, enchanted by calculative thinking, mindlessly passing over what is worthy of thought?

That is the question. It is the world-question of thinking. Answering this question decides what will become of the eanh and of human existence on this earth.

The Principle of Reason (GA 10) by Martin Heidegger